Fabaceae (Papilionaceae), Lablab purpureus, Lablab
Lablab is a climbing perennial vine with thick foliage. Numerous flowers are born on a long inflorescence and can vary in color, typically purple or cream with purple.
The fruit is a pod, purple, short and broad (4 cm long X 1.5 cm wide).
In Kenya lablab is cultivated mainly on the Coast, Central, Eastern, and the Rift Valley regions. In its wild state it is found climbing on other plants at the edges of riverine forests and mountain forests.
Lablab is an excellent cover crop and nitrogen fixer and can be cultivated in a wide variety of soils.
Beans can be consumed dry or green, cooked and eaten, often soaked beforehand to expedite cooking. Beans are cooked for 2-3 hours, often with corn or various varieties of vegetable.
Lablab is an important traditional food amongst the Kikuyu amongst whom the bean is almost always served to mothers recuperating after childbirth, the bean is said to increase mother’s milk.
The leaves are occasionally used as a vegetable in Coast and Central Provinces, however good knowledge of preparation is needed.
Lablab is best planted with other crops, preferably along the edges of cropland. Likes moisture.